L.J. Lawson: If golfing isn’t fun, then you’re not doing it right

I love golf. If given the opportunity to golf or do pretty much anything else, I choose golf. I find golf fun, so, when people tell me golf isn’t fun, my response is, “You’re not doing it right.”

A fun round of golf for me may be different than someone else’s, but it confuses me how so many people can make golf no fun at all, for themselves or their playing partners. I’ve seen a lot of different ways people take the fun out of golf.

First off, they golf with the wrong people. If you want to have fun, golf with people whose idea of fun is the same as yours. If you’re out there to have a good visit with a friend while you play a few holes and golf is secondary, don’t play with someone who needs absolute silence and wants only to focus on their game. It won’t be fun.

Listen to yourself when you miss a shot. Would you ever talk to anyone the way you talk to yourself on the course? Think about it this way — what changes in your life if that shot was perfect? Your lie, and maybe your score. But you still have to go to work, you’ll still have children to take care of, or grass to mow. Be nice to yourself. Many people who have gone on to do great things in life can’t break 100 in golf.

Guess what else? You’re not good enough to get angry. Golf is a hard game, and only 29% of golfers break 100, and only 5% of golfers shoot under 80. The average regular golfer will shoot 28 strokes over par. Professional tour pros spend their weeks working out and practicing with a coach. They don’t go to work all week and hit the course on weekends and expect to take home the prize money. If you don’t see them lose their cool when they have a bad shot, why do you?

Looking to punish yourself further? Treat every game as though you are in a competitive tournament and it’s life or death.

Hit the ball in the deep rough, keep taking strokes until you pass out, don’t move the ball to somewhere more friendly, and carry on. Not playing well or haven’t been out much? Make sure you have a big bet on the line. Oh, and expect every shot to be like it was when you were 20 and played five times a week.

New to the game and just golfing with friends? Make sure you follow every single rule, no matter how many strokes it takes and how long they’ve all been watching you swing. Don’t pick up the ball and move it. Don’t use a hand or foot wedge. Don’t tee it up on the fairway so you can make better contact. Just make sure that by the time the ball is in the hole, you never want to golf again and your friends are afraid to make eye contact.

Golf purists out there will cringe at what I’ve said. And you know what, I’m one of those people who likes to play golf because of the rules and structure; I like to challenge myself and focus on my game so I mostly play with others who do too. But I also want to see more people take up golf and enjoy it, so when I’m playing with people who like golf for different reasons and don’t like the quiet, more serious round, I adjust accordingly.

Others may say that your handicap won’t be accurate when you don’t follow all of the rules. This can be correct. But really, if you are still struggling to make good contact, your handicap probably won’t be impacted. Besides, how many people are really looking to keep a handicap so they can play in matches and competitive stroke play tournaments? If that’s not your goal, it’s not your worry.

And if you do keep a handicap and aren’t playing in a tournament where not finishing a hole could disqualify you, you can always take the maximum score for your handicap on that hole and move on. This isn’t the way to play all 18 holes but really, until you’ve found a consistent swing and are ready to keep your handicap, why not just have fun?

For me, a good golfer is someone you can have an enjoyable round with. Golf with fun people and quit punishing yourself unnecessarily. 

 

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